Antonio Conte doubts Chelsea will have advantage over Barcelona

Antonio Conte

 

Antonio Conte says Chelsea’s Friday night fixture will not have an advantage in the Champions League game because they will also be playing against tough competitors between the two legs against Barcelona.

Conte will play against Manchester United on February 25 and will be followed by a game against Manchester City on March 4.

“I think to play of Friday is good for us,” Conte said.

“Three days to try and prepare the game against Barcelona.

“At the same time, between these fames, we have two strong games in the league: Manchester United and Manchester City, both away.

“If we were lucky to play on Friday, we were very unlucky to have this schedule between the two Barcelona games.

“This schedule is not very interesting for us. Maybe it is for someone else. I hope for no replay (against Hull). We had one against Norwich, but I hope to try and win this game and go through without a replay.”

Jurgen Klopp refused to accept Liverpool’s place in the quarter-finals

Jurgen Klopp

 

Jurgen Klopp refused to accept that Liverpool have one foot in Champions League quarter finals despite their great win against FC Porto 5-0.

Liverpool dominated their game against FC Porto in Portugal and effectively killed a possible tie ahead of their game with them again at Anfield on March 6.

Klopp will be able to rest some of his key players four days before an important game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Klopp also insisted that they will not go easy on Porto when asked if the last 16 tie was over/

“No, of course not. Why should I think that.”

“We came here to create the basis for the second game at Anfield, no more no less.

“I’ve said many times I’m too long in the business to think anything is sorted before the final whistle is done.

“We owe our supporters at Anfield a 100% performance and that’s what we want to deliver. That’s all.”

Mauricio Pochettino hailed Tottenham after 2-2 draw with Juventus

Mauricio Pochettino

 

Mauricio Pochettino commended his side after Tottenham Hotspur overcame a nightmare start with Juventus and ended with a 2-2 draw in last night’s Champions League.

“A fantastic game,” said Pochettino.

“We were sloppy and conceded two goals in nine minutes, but the character we showed was fantastic. I want to congratulate the players — 2-0 down in Turin to a team so difficult to break down. We deserved a victory more than a draw.”

“We are more mature now. In the last few weeks, the team are growing and have stepped up. It’s a good example of the capacity we have. The team was amazing in how they reacted.

“You need some luck always in football. The tie is open, Juventus are a massive team. We have the hope we can win [the second leg] in Wembley.”

Harry Kane

 

Harry Kane scored the goal which helped him to create more results.

“We could have [capitulated], away from home in the Champions League. It showed character,” Kane said.

“It was an excellent performance after that and we take two away goals to Wembley. Great result.

“I should have scored the header, but you have to be ready for the next one and I finished it off.”

Adding to their draw, Tottenham manager David Pleat added that Juventus paid a price for becoming over confident.

“Juventus were complacent in the first half after going two goals up. It was probably the worst thing that happened to them, because they sat a little bit and Tottenham had no option but to push on. As the game developed they made their ascendancy count,” Pleat said.

“Juventus were a little disappointing when you consider their results over the past three months in Italy, it is quite incredible. They faded in the second half in Cardiff when they played Real Madrid in the final last year, they’ve got some ageing players in the squad and were missing some players. They may well have players back maybe, maybe Paulo Dybala, the clever midfielder, will be back for the second game. And they’ve had a good look at Tottenham now, so they know what they are up against, this will be a titanic battle.”

 

Can Liverpool progress in the knockout stages of the Champions League

Jurgen Klopp

 

Liverpool will walk out at FC Porto’s Estadio do Dragao next Wednesday and this will be the first time in nine years that they have been involved in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

But can they handle it? Jamie Carragher shares his insights about the long wait and he only has positive things to say about Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Jamie Carragher

“It has been too long,” Carragher said.

“Over the years when I was playing maybe we took it for granted getting to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

“Now only when you’ve been away for so long, you appreciate how big a thing it is.

“Hopefully the manager and the lads can help us keep moving forward and get through that Porto tie.

“Then you’ve got the excitement of the draw and it keeps the season going in terms of a trophy still being up for grabs.”

“Yes, Liverpool are big outsiders this season,” Carragher said.

“But this team is better than the Liverpool team I played in that won the Champions League in 2005.

Liverpool

 

“It will be tough against Porto but it’s a winnable tie and if we get through that who knows what could happen.

“With all the talk about getting into the top four and qualifying for the Champions League for next season, we shouldn’t forget that we’re still in the competition this season.

“I’m going over to Portugal myself next week and hopefully we can get a good result and see where it takes us.”

“I never moved clubs so I don’t know what it’s like to go back somewhere, but I don’t think it’s nice when a whole crowd turns on you,” Carragher said.

“Their fans have got that many options it won’t just be one they’re targeting! Lovren gets stick down there so Van Dijk won’t be alone and I’m sure he can handle it.

“Southampton are down there but I think player wise they have probably got the best team out of the clubs that are down there.

“They still play some really good football. Tottenham only got a draw there a few weeks ago.

“With Arsenal playing Tottenham this weekend, one of those clubs is going to drop points and Liverpool have to capitalise by getting a win.”

“It’s very tight. Liverpool have had a couple of opportunities to create a gap of four or five points and they haven’t taken them,” Carragher said.

“The worry is that Tottenham in recent years have had a great second half of the season. Being out of the FA Cup, even though you don’t like it, that could be a help for Liverpool.

“We’ve still got to go to Goodison, Old Trafford and Chelsea but I still fancy us to get top four. If Liverpool achieve that if will have been a great job by Jurgen Klopp to get Champions League football two years running.”

Olivier Giroud might not play until after the holidays after suffering a hamstring injury

Olivier Giroud

 

Olivier Giroud had a rare opportunity to start against West Ham but was ruined when he limped off clutching his right leg during the 78th minute.

Arsene boss Arsene Wenger is also worried since Francis Coquelin was also hindered because of a cramp during their game but he is expected to be ready on Friday when they go against Liverpool.

“It looks like that. We have to wait. Nowadays you do the scan 48 hours after the injury,” Wenger said.

“That will happen on Thursday, then we will have a precise kind of grade on what his hamstring [injury] is.

“When you listen to him, the pain is quite big, but the grade is not always linked to the intensity of the pain.

“In his statement [to me], it does not look very good.”

Pep Guardiola insists winning quadruple is not possible

 Pep Guardiola

 

Although Manchester City are extending their unbeaten domestic run to 27 matches and most are saying that they may win all four trophies, but Pep Guardiola insists that they will not win it all.

The City manager is full of praises for his players, but he refused to entertain any suggestions that his side might be able to win the Carabao Cup, FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League this season.

“That is not going to happen. Of course not,” he said. “Come on, that isn’t real. What we’re living isn’t real. The situation of winning 16 or 17 games in a row in the league and qualifying for the Champions League before we finished the group stage and now we’re here playing with a lot of young players, that is not normal.

“In football you drop points and you lose competitions. I am not thinking about how many titles, I am thinking about the next game.”

Manchester City want Fergie-style dynasty

Pep Guardiola

 

Manchester City have maintained their stronghold over England’s top flight by winning against Tottenham Hotspur, and now the club’s Abu Dhabi owners want to make sure that Pep Guardiola will stay with them for a long time.

City owners want Guardiola to build an Alex-Ferguson-style dynasty by having him on a longer-term arrangement after seeing his potential to build an Alex Ferguson-style dynasty.

Guardiola is almost at the half of his three-year contract and earning around £20 million annually.

City owners are now prepared to talk with Guardiola for a possible longer-term arrangement, a much bigger salary and making him create his legacy.

A one-year extension has previously been suggested for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach. But City recognise the talent Guardiola brings and that he can build his own dynasty over the next ten years.

Tottenham climbs the table and wants to keep top-four berth

Mauricio Pochettino

 

Tottenham have now climbed back the table after beating Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 on Wednesday evening and they have now returned to the Champions League qualification spot.

Spurs had slipped to seventh before the clash with Brighton, but a 2-0 win together with Arsenal and Liverpool dropping points made Mauricio Pochettino’s side returned to the Premier League’s top four.

“I think it’s fantastic for us, three victories in a row – so important for us,” said Pochettino.

“I’m happy with the performance.

“It’s good to feel again that we are in the top four and it’s so important to keep this position now.”

“The team deserved it, we dominated the game,” he added. “We deserved to go to half time winning the game, [the win was important to] believe and fight for the Premier League.

“We created a lot of chances, it’s not easy to play when the opponent play in that formation to try only to stop you to play.”

Tottenham Hotspur manager says ‘Champions League has distracted us’

Mauricio Pochettino

 

Now that Tottenham Hotspur have a short break from European competition, Mauricio Pochettino admitted that his team became distracted by their European campaign.

Although Spurs topped their Champions League group ahead of Real Madrid, they did not do well in the Premier League and had picked up just two points in their previous four games.

“We spent a lot of energy in the Champions League and it was so tough to mix between that competition and the Premier League,” he said after Saturday’s facile win, which saw Spurs close the gap on the top four to just one point.

“Last season when we were out of the Champions League we were able to focus on the Premier League, but this season the team wanted to show that we were strong in Europe, too. Maybe we were distracted about that.”

While Tottenham are already on the top, they could still find themselves with a tough draw against Bayern Munich or Juventus, who both finished as runners-up in their groups.

“I prefer to play against a team that will motivate everyone rather than a team everybody says you should beat easily. That is when it gets complicated. We would love to play against a big team.”

Could Zlatan Ibrahimovic ready to play against Manchester City

 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

 

Fans of Zlatan Ibrahimovic may finally see him play against Manchester City according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

Ibrahimovic was not able to play against Arsenal and CSKA Moscow due to his injury but the former international could provide a timely fitness boost for Mourinho ahead of a very important derby.

“Truth is that [Eric] Bailly is out for the weekend, [Phil] Jones a chance, [Marouane] Fellaini a chance, Zlatan a big chance and [Nemanja] Matic is injured, but will play for sure,” Mourinho told reporters. “[Michael] Carrick no chance.

“That is the truth, like Lacazette and David Silva. It’s all the truth.”

“I am not playing for records,” Mourinho said. “I want to make history because we won the Europa League for the first time and for doing more important things than breaking records.

“But of course, it is always nice.”